5 Ways to Impress During a Meeting — (I’m Working on #1 Myself)

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post, and there’s a very good reason for this. I recently left my job supervising a call center, and moved back into the technology field doing PHP Development work for a local publishing company. Yay for me, and for you! Now that I’ve settled back down again, and gotten back into rhythm, I have a little more ability to write.

My first post I want to do for you is something that I’ve been focusing on. This change of job is more then just a change of occupation, I’m moving back into my career path, which is immensely important, as it’s where I intend to be working until I retire. So, I have put together a list of things that help you impress during meetings.

5. Don’t use jargon

Jargon are words that sound good, but don’t actually say anything. Forbes as done a remarkable job listing some of the worst offenders, so I won’t reiterate. Just don’t use it.

How Will It Help

The reason why is actually quite simple: It’s not memorable. Nobody cares if you’re using the same jargon as everyone else. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to put the effort into forming actual thoughts and ideas, instead of just telling everyone that you need to “synergize” your team, and “buy-in” to the new way of “moving the needle” — ok, so I reiterated, just a bit.

Instead, try to focus on the actual problem. This will show your co-workers, and your boss, that you understand what the actual concern is, and that you’re focused on finding the solution, instead of parading around pretending to know what you’re talking about, when in reality you’re just another suit full of fear that you’re not going to make it past the next rung in the ladder.

4. Ask questions

Questions seem like they’re something to avoid during a meeting, but in reality they’re not. You might have this belief that those who ask questions are those who don’t understand their job, but this is complete and utter bollocks. Those who ask questions understand their job the most. Know why? Because they asked the fucking questions that’s why.

How Will It Help

Your boss didn’t get where she is by not asking questions. She asks them everyday. You know, when it feels like she’s trying to size you up, and see where your project is? She’s really…sizing you up, and seeing where your project is. Because that’s her job.

She asks questions of her bosses, as well. If she’s the CEO, she asks questions of the share holders. She also asks them of the buying public. Because that’s what business is. It’s a ton of questions, and very few quality answers. If you can begin supplying those answers, you convert yourself into a priceless asset, and one that they will keep around for the long haul.

3. Show Up On Time

This is true about anything, but especially meetings. If you’re not on time, you had better come with a damn good reason. And not an excuse, either. A reason. As in, you had come across an immediate concern in the company servers, and instead of making the meeting’s start time, you spent an extra 10 minutes shoring up that security hole, so the company intranet didn’t go down while you were discussing the coming month’s budget.

Because if you’re not on time, you’re not important.

How Will It Help

In college showing up fashionably late might have been the it thing to do, but this isn’t college, and there will not be beer. Unless of course you’re working for Sam Adam’s. Either way, don’t be late. Your boss doesn’t want people he can’t rely on. He wants to know that if he says he needs you somewhere at 10 O’Clock, you’re going to be there 15 minutes early, and nearly finished, before he arrives.

That’s why you need to have a reason to be late. Because you can’t always be on time, emergencies do arise, but if you have a reason to be late, you can tell your boss, hey, it’s okay, I got to this one before you even knew I needed to.

That’s the ultimate early.

2. Close Your Damn Mouth

Some people think that to sound smart, and get their name out there, they need to contribute every thought that runs through their pretty little skull. This is not true, and in fact will only serve to damage your reputation.

How Will It Help

Think of it like this, you’re definitely going to hit a bulls eye once in a while if you continuously slog a shovel full of cow shit at it. This isn’t impressive, because at the end of the day you have a wall covered in cow shit, and a shit smelling bulls eye that nobody wants to touch.

Now that I’ve said all that, it might seem like a bad time to follow it up with…

1. Open Your Damn Mouth

Yes, this seems like completely different modes of advice, but they’re not. Just as there are some people that can’t seem to shut the hell up, there are also those who don’t seem to ever want to open their mouths. I’m one of them. It’s not that I don’t feel my ideas are useful, in fact I believe my ideas are pure gold and should be implemented without edit–which is why I never bring them up. Because my ideas are not pure gold. No idea is.

How Will It Help

Even though my ideas aren’t pure gold, they are good. And with a little polishing and buffing from the team, they can be great. That’s what meetings are for. To find the good ideas, and polish them as a group, and once they’re polished you all head off into your corners and work on your portion.

Your ideas might not seem great to you, or they might seem too precious to even consider offering up your opinion, for fear that you’re not as smart as you think you are. But, the only way to really find out is to put yourself out there, and try. There’s a saying in the chess world that you never become a better player until you compete against a player who is your better.

Basically what that means is, unless you challenge yourself, you’re going to stay the same. And just as you don’t want to stay in the same job forever, your boss doesn’t want to promote someone who never grows.

The trick is to only open your mouth when you believe the idea actually contributes to the issue at hand. So, when they’re discussing how to expand the stagnant mailing list on the website, don’t chime in that if you did a cold calling campaign you might be able to expand profit margin. Sure, that could be a good idea, but the issue is the mailing list. A better idea might be to suggest making some minor edits to the form, and running a split test to get some data on which performs better. It’s specific enough to get people focusing in the direction they need to be, and vague enough that you don’t imprint anything specific. Let the others handle the specifics, you’re guiding them to the idea.

One might say, you’re leading.

A Change in the Publishing Air

Some of you that know me know I own a small independent publishing company. Those of you that didn’t, now you do. By small I mean small, less than 10 published works, and all from a single author. Myself. That said, I’ve been seeing a change in the air lately. There is a big draw to become indie published, which is exactly why I started the company–so I could be indie, without being indie. I wanted a publisher’s name in the credits, but didn’t want the stress of finding a publisher.

I’ve started considering how I could use this changing paradigm to make profit. With the expansion of print-on-demand, and the increasing quality of such services, not to mention the expansion of eBooks as a competitive reading medium, and the inexpensiveness of eBook production, I really do see us on the precipice of a new age in publishing.

It’s for that reason I’ve started planning out a new publishing contract, one that is weighted in favor of the author, and not the publishing house. Costs can be cut by utilizing freelancers on a project-by-project basis, and maintaining a vastly online presence–all of which I have experience with, and can setup without much effort. As always, I’m looking for no-hassle, passive income, so I’d be hiring a single full-time assistant, an editor who would be able to sift through the submissions for the cream of the crop. We’d then submit those for editing to one of the stable freelance editors, sending back the results to the author.

I’m aiming for the middle ground between Vanity Publisher and Traditional Publisher. I won’t take anything and everything, but I don’t want to have to invest so much work that the financial side of it requires a bigger cut. I’d also be looking for a very non-traditional, free flowing contract. Contracts would focus on works as works, not works as a means of enslaving the author. Authors need to be free. They cannot thrive in a relationship that requires they be leashed to you.

I’m considering this: A high royalty (50%) on earnings until the expenses are paid off, or until 1 year of publication has elapsed (meaning if the book takes 6 months to edit, and is released on June 1st of 2014, June 1st of 2015 the royalty would switch), whichever happens sooner. During that first year all editing, typesetting, and marketing costs would be covered by us, with the author and / or their representative having an equal seat at the discussion table for all of it. Once everything is agreed upon, the publishing will happen. Once the expenses are covered, or a year has elapsed (again, whichever happens sooner), the royalty would then convert to 15%. Again, this is the publisher side. That means that we (the publisher) would sell the book, and if it made $1.00, we would pocket $0.15, the rest going to the author.

Obviously, due to the cost paradigm, the marketing efforts for that work would dry up after the first year. The author would need to cover a larger portion of advertising themselves, etc. And we would not be able to cover major events, such as book signings, but these are all things the author would have the time to focus on.

The important thing is getting a professional book to market, without the hassle of funding it yourself, and if you want someone else to handle all of the decisions and just get to the writing, we could make that happen to.

What do you think of this type of publisher plan? Could it work? Would you use it? Am I crazy for even considering it? Let me know in the comments!

Why I Refuse To Be Seduced By Debt

Debt is an evil thing that no one really understands. It makes life so much easier, or so we’re told. But, I’m completely against it. Debt, and credit, to me, is the least capitalist thing you can do. And I mean that, wholeheartedly. Capitalism is about making a profit, and when you’re working on credit, you’re doing yourself a disservice. First, you’re starting in the negative, whereas if you spend cash for something you’re starting at 0. Second, there’s interest, so it’s actually costing you more than paying cash.

Why Are You Starting In The Negatives?

It’s very simple math. Say I want a $179,500 home, average for the United States. Say I then turn around and get a $200,000 loan, with a fixed rate of 3.75%. That mortgage will cost me $333,443. Effectively double the cost of the property. Which means, if I then went and sold the property for $179,500, I would be at a loss. This is why I say that credit causes you to start in the negatives.

But it’s so convenient!

No, it is not convenient. You are impatient. For that mortgage you will be paying $926 per month. Now, say you decided to save just half of that. You will be able to save the full purchase price for that home in 16 years. Now, that seems like a long time, and it is, but at the end of that 16 years you will own, outright, your home. You also have to take into account interest, and if you’re smart, investments. If you invest in a simple monthly paying dividend stock that pays out dividends of $0.18 per share, per month, how long would it take to save up the cost of a home? If you invested your money at $213.96 (roughly 1/4 of $926) per week, into a stock that cost $50 per share, and pays $0.18 per share, per month, after 88 weeks (roughly 1 and a half years) you should have enough value in that stock to purchase your home.

Math Of The Above Formula

W = \mbox{ Weeks After Initial Purchase } \newline  F = \mbox{ Weeks Between Dividend Payouts } \newline  I = \mbox{ Investment Amount } \newline  P = \mbox{ Initial Buy Price } \newline  D = \mbox{ Dividend Payout Per Share } \newline  \newline  f(W,F,I,P,D) = W\,\bmod\,F = \begin{cases} 0 & W + (I / P) \\ > 0 & W + (I / P) + (D * W) \end{cases}

But You Can’t Trust The STOCK MARKET IT JUST CRASHED!

No, genius, the mortgage industry just crashed. It sent ripples through the stock market, but it was bad credit that caused all the problems. If everyone had paid cash for their homes, they might have lost some money, but they wouldn’t have lost it all, like so many did. The trick is to invest in stocks that have a proven track record.

Here’s The Magic

Going back to the example above, I want to point something out to you. The amount of investment capital, actual out-of-pocket money you have to spend, compared to the dividend income, money that you earn for your investment. Investment capital on the example above is roughly $19,018.41, which you will notice is 10.5% of the cost of the house. Now, the dividend income? $189,318.10 which you will notice is nearly $10,000 more than the value of the property. So, what this means is you can cash out your entire stock portfolio, and not spend a dime of your own money on the house of your dreams.

Here’s the Rub

The above example is a very, very, simple example, and by no means realistic in it’s simplicity. That said, it is possible, and it is exactly what I’m doing for my investment strategy. This isn’t advice for you to follow, but it is advice for you to research, talk to your financial advisor, and realize that anyone can do this. Sure, the amounts might vary, and the timeframe might go up, but that doesn’t change the inherent benefit of using dividend paying stocks to fund your real estate purchases. 

If you’ve done this, or know of why this would not work, could not work, or should not work, please, let me know. I’m always looking to learn, and get good advice out there. If I’m wrong, and you know it, I beg you, leave me a comment and let me know. As the saying goes, pride goeth before the fall. I put knowledge before pride in everything I do.